The New International Encyclopædia/Oregon
OR′EGON (named from the Oregon, now the Columbia River, probably an American Indian name). A western State of the United States, lying on the Pacific Slope, between latitudes 42° and 46° 18′ N., and between longitudes 110° 33′ and 124° 25′ W. It is bounded on the north by the State of Washington, on the east by Idaho, on the south by Nevada and California, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean. Its extreme length from east to west is 396 miles, and from north to south 300 miles. Its area is 96,030 square miles, of which 94,560 square miles, or 60,518,400 acres, are land surface. It ranks seventh in size among the States.
Topography. The salient features of the topography are the two mountain ranges extending parallel with the coast through the western part of the State, and the great inland plateau in the east. The coast is rocky and abrupt, and runs in an almost straight line north and south, with no very prominent inlets or headlands. There are, however, besides the wide mouth of the Columbia River on the north boundary, several small bays or harbors, such as Tillamook, Winchester, and Coos bays, all of which are landlocked, with narrow entrances. Near the southern boundary the coast runs out in an obtuse angle ending in Cape Blanco. The land rises immediately from the coast to the crest of the Coast Range, which is about 20 miles inland, and has a height of 1000 to 4000 feet. It is heavily forested, and though of irregular outline, with many transverse valleys, it is unbroken, save in two or three places, throughout the length of the State. The Cascade Mountains run parallel with the Coast Range about 120 miles from the coast. They are the prolongation of the Sierra Nevada, rise to an average height of over 6000 feet, and are crowned by a line of extinct volcanic cones, several of which are over 9000 feet high, while Mount Hood, the culminating point near the northern boundary, has an altitude of 11,225 feet. Like the Coast Range, the Cascades are heavily forested, and their summits are covered with snow. Between the two ranges extends a broad valley, divided by several spurs and cross ranges, and becoming rough and mountainous in the south, while the northern half forms the rolling prairie valley of the Willamette. The region lying east of the Cascades covers two-thirds of the area of the State, and consists of an elevated plateau. The southern half of this belongs to the Great American Basin, though its floor has an elevation of 5000 feet, rising to 6000 feet in the southeast. Several of the longitudinal Basin Ranges of Nevada extend into this plateau, and large areas are covered with lava flows. The northern half slopes northward toward the valley of the Columbia River. It is more undulating than the southern plateau, and is traversed in the northeast by the Blue Mountains, an irregular chain rising to a height of 7000 feet, and sending out side spurs flanked by deep valleys. Some of the rivers in this region have cut deep cañons, especially the Snake River on the northeastern boundary, whose cañon almost rivals that of the Colorado.
AREA AND POPULATION OF OREGON BY COUNTIES.
|County Seat.|| Area in
|Baker||H 5||Baker City||2,275||6,764||15,597|
|Clackamas||C 4||Oregon City||1,861||15,233||19,658|
|Columbia||B 4||St. Helen||677||5,191||6,237|
|Grant||F 5||Canyon City||4,560||5,080||5,948|
|Josephine||B 7||Grants Pass||1,684||4,878||7,517|
|Klamath||D 6||Klamath Falls||5,854||2,444||3,970|
|Wasco||D 4||The Dalles||2,962||9,183||13,199|
Hydrography. The Columbia River forms, with an interruption at the Falls of the Dalles, a large, navigable waterway for 300 miles along the northern boundary. Its chief tributaries in the State are the Willamette west of the Cascades, and on the eastern plateau the Deschutes, John Day, and Umatilla, whose branches form a considerable network of minor streams. The Snake River, which joins the Columbia in Washington, forms about one-half of the eastern boundary, and its chief tributary, the Owyhee, runs inside the boundary along the remaining half. The streams flowing directly into the ocean are mostly short, but two of them, the Umpqua and the Rogue, rise on the Cascades and break through the Coast Range. On the interior plateau there are a number of streams running into lakes which have no outlet. There are a number of lakes of considerable size in the south-central portion, the largest of which are Goose Lake, which lies partly in California; Klamath Lake, at the base of the Cascades, 30 miles long; and Malheur Lake, on the eastern plateau, 22 miles long.
Climate. In few places is the influence of topography on climate more apparent than in Oregon. The winds from the ocean are deprived of nearly all their moisture by the Coast and Cascade ranges, which also bar out the tempering influence of the sea, so that the portion west of the Cascades has a moist and equable insular climate, while east of the mountains the climate is dry and continental, with great extremes. On the coast winds from the sea temper the summer heat, and tend to reduce the cold of winter, while cold winds from the northeast are barred out by the mountains. Here the mean temperature for January is 42.2°, and for July 62.3°, while great extremes are rare. On the eastern plateau the mean temperature is 29.6° for January and 66.9° for July, while the extremes fall below zero every winter, sometimes nearly 30° below, and rise above 100° every summer, the maximum record being 119°. In regard to rainfall there is a still greater difference between the two regions. In the west the rainfall is abundant, and in some places excessive. West of the Coast Range it averages 89.6 inches, in the Willamette Valley it is 50.8 inches, while in Tillamook County it is nearly 140 inches. On the eastern plateau it is insufficient for the needs of agriculture, being on the average 12.7 inches, and in the south-central portion only 6.5 inches. More than three-fourths of the rainfall of the State occurs in the wet season from October to March. Thunderstorms are rare in Oregon, and never severe, while hurricanes are unknown.
Soil and Vegetation. The soil on the highlands and plateau consists of decomposed lava, and in the valleys it is a rich black alluvial deposit. With the exception of some extensive tracts of sand and of volcanic ashes and pumice in the east, the soil is everywhere of great fertility, and even in the east capable of yielding heavy crops when irrigated. The eastern plateau, however, consists largely of arid plains covered with sage-brush, or with extensive salt marshes. The northern table-lands are covered with bunch-grasses suitable for grazing, and here are some junipers and pines. Western Oregon still contains one of the heaviest timber belts in the world. The entire western slope of the Cascades is covered with a belt of forest 20 miles wide, and the Coast Range is also densely forested. In the valleys are found cottonwoods, maple, ash, alder, dogwood, and wild cherry. There are seven species of oak, and the fragrant Oregon myrtle (Oreodaphne Californica) is a common tree. The coniferæ, however, predominate in the large forests, and include pines, spruces, firs, hemlocks, cedars, junipers, larch, and yew. Some characteristic species are the Oregon yellow pine (Pinus ponderosa), the Western arbor-vitæ (Thuya gigantea), the Picea nobilis, and the Oregon yew (Taxus brevifolia). For Fauna, see this section under United States.
Geology. The most remarkable feature of the geological history of Oregon is the enormous volcanic eruption which took place principally in Miocene time, one of the most extensive lava flows in the world. The Cascade Mountains are entirely composed of lava and basaltic rocks, and a lava-sheet 1000 feet thick or more covers the whole eastern two-thirds of the State, together with large parts of Washington and Idaho. Some parts are much weathered and dissected, while others are more recent and smooth. The underlying rock formations are generally shown only where the rivers have cut through the lava. In the Snake River cañon in the northeast the rocks are ancient metamorphic granites, gneisses and mica-slate, while the Cascades are underlaid throughout with Cretaceous rocks covered for some distance (beneath the lava) with Eocene and Miocene strata. In the southwestern valley there is a belt of slates and serpentine, but the Coast Range is mainly an anticlinal whose surface consists of Tertiary sandstone.
Mineralogy and Mining. Oregon has a great wealth and variety of mineral resources, and, curiously enough, some of the richest mineral deposits are found in the valleys. Thus in the serpentine belt in the southwest there are lodes of chrome iron, copper, magnetite, and nickel. The nickel ore exists as a green hydrated nickel-magnesia silicate filling large irregular cavities in the serpentine. The deposit of this is supposed to be very extensive. Limonite, or brown hematite iron ore, is found in the Willamette region, and quartz veins bearing gold and silver occur in the slate belts east of the serpentine as well as in the Cascades and in eastern Oregon, where there are also deposits of zinc and cinnabar. Beds of lignite exist in the Cretaceous and perhaps in the Tertiary strata of the Coast Range, and the sandstones of the latter, as well as the limestones in the south and the volcanic rocks, furnish inexhaustible supplies of building stone. Other minerals found are mercury, platinum, iridium, lead, and antimony, as well as clay, salt, and alkali deposits. Gold is the only mineral extensively mined. It is produced chiefly in the Blue Mountain region in the northeastern part of the State. The annual output has latterly exceeded $1,000,000 in value, reaching $1,694,700 in 1900. Small quantities of silver, borax, and coal are mined, the coal being of the lignite variety.
Fisheries. Salmon fishing and canning is one of the most important industries, and is unequaled by any other State. It began in 1866, and the value of the annual product since 1870 has fluctuated around $2,000,000, the maximum being reached in 1883. Over 5000 people, including many Chinese, have been employed most of this period. For a time reckless overfishing threatened exhaustion of the supply, but the enforcement of laws and the establishment of hatcheries have averted this danger. Sturgeon, halibut, oysters, and other varieties of fish are caught in less quantities. The erection of refrigerating and freezing plants and the increased use of refrigerator cars have made possible greater shipments of fresh fish and have thus tended to lessen the amount of the canned product.
Agriculture. The different sections of the State, varying so distinctly in climate, topography, and soil, naturally vary in agricultural development. In the river valleys west of the Cascades almost every variety of crop common to the temperate zone is produced in great abundance. The Willamette Valley especially is noted for its great productivity. East of the Cascades, in the Columbia Valley, the rainfall is generally sufficient to justify the raising of some of the more hardy crops, the favorable years producing enough to cover the loss in the years of drought. Irrigation is possible in parts of this region and is being resorted to with success. Save in the centre of Oregon there are numerous rivers throughout the eastern half of the State which afford an extensive water supply that could be utilized for irrigation. But these sources have as yet been very little developed, owing largely to the remoteness from lines of transportation and markets. The irrigated area in the State increased from 177,944 acres in 1889 to 388,310 acres in 1899. Almost the whole of this is watered from streams, scarcely any from reservoirs or wells. The largest irrigated area is that north of Malheur and Harney lakes in Harney County. Simple methods are employed in irrigation, and the average cost of it per acre is low. In 1900 only 16.6 per cent. of the land area was included in farms. Of this 33 per cent. was improved. The average size of farms decreased until 1880, since which time, owing to the large additions made to ranges in the eastern part of the State, the average size has grown larger. It has, however, continued to decrease in the western counties.
The two leading crops are wheat and hay. The area devoted to wheat doubled between 1880 and 1900, the increase being almost wholly in the northeast counties, where one-half the crop is now grown. During the same period the acreage of hay and forage gained over threefold. Oats are grown principally in the Willamette Valley, and barley in the northeast counties. Oats have a large acreage. On account of the coolness of the nights, corn does not thrive, and but little is grown. Potatoes produce abundantly and are an important crop. Sugar beets are raised in Union County. The State ranks second in the production of hops, their culture being confined principally to the Willamette Valley. The region between the Cascade and Coast ranges, particularly Jackson and Douglas counties, has become noted for the production of fruit. The number of plum and prune trees in 1900 (2,517,523) was ten times that of 1890 and is only exceeded in California. The number of apple trees (2,825,898) more than doubled in the same period. Other fruits grown include almost every variety common to the temperate zone.
The following table of acreages is self-explanatory:
|Hay and forage||731,823||467,061|
Stock-Raising. Horses, cattle, swine, and sheep are raised in numbers greater than is required to supply the home market. Large sections of the eastern portion of the State are fit only for grazing, and there are many large ranches in this region. The natural grasses cure on the ground and supply nutritive pasturage all the year. With the exception of 1860-70, each decade since 1850 has exhibited an increase in the number of every kind of domestic animal. The most significant increase from 1890 to 1900 was in cattle. The production of wool in that decade gained 83.8 per cent., while the average weight of fleeces increased from 6.3 pounds to 8.6 pounds, the latter record not being exceeded in any State. The following is a table of the leading holdings of stock:
|Mules and asses||7,751||4,946|
Forest and Forest Products. The forests of Oregon are scarcely exceeded in extent and value by those of any other State. Except for limited districts already cleared, almost the whole of the region included between the Coast Range and the western slope of the Cascades is covered with forests, as is also a considerable portion of the eastern slope of the Cascades and the northeastern part of the State. The total woodland area has been estimated (1900) at 54,300 square miles, or 57 per cent. of the area of the State. Lane County has more timber than any other county, but is greatly exceeded by the corresponding area contained in the four counties in the northwest corner of the State. The coast forests are famous for their great density and the enormous growth attained by certain species of trees. Stands of 100,000 feet per acre for entire townships have been reported. The Douglas fir (red fir), which is one of the prevailing species of this section, sometimes attains a height of 300 feet. The average diameter of these trees cut is from 60 to 72 inches. Bridge timbers 110 feet in length and free from knots and other imperfections are obtained from these firs. The great strength of these timbers makes them very valuable for bridge use and also for spars or for framings for buildings. This species produces more commercial timber to the acre than any other tree on the continent. It is estimated that over five-sevenths of the timber is of this variety. The lumber product is constantly increasing in amount and value, the product for 1900 being worth $10,352,167. The pines and cedars are the most important species, both being large trees, and highly prized for finishing. The lumber cut in 1900 was estimated at 776,978,000 feet, as compared with 470,146,000 in 1890. The increase in value was proportionate. The remoteness of the region from the large lumber markets necessitates heavy freight expenditure and has tended to minimize the price of the product, and therefore limit its exploitation. The United States Government has recently set off over 4,500,000 acres as a forest reserve.
Manufactures. The manufacturing facilities are excellent. The natural resources include a supply of coal for fuel, and an abundant water power is attainable at The Dalles, Cascade Locks, and Oregon City. In the decade 1880-1890 there was for the first time a large development in the manufacturing industry, but the increase was only slight in the succeeding decade. In 1900 the value of manufactured products was $46,000,000, and 17,236 wage-earners, or 4.2 per cent. of the population, were then engaged in the industry. The forests are the most important source of raw materials, and the agricultural products rank second. The flouring and grist mill output amounted in 1900 to $6,364,000, being nearly a third greater than in 1890. The slaughtering and meat-packing output in the same year was valued at $1,638,480. Among other industries are the manufacture of woolen goods, canning and preserving of fish, car construction, and ship and boat building, including one establishment for the building of iron and steel vessels. About one-half of the total manufactured product of the State is accredited to Portland.
Transportation and Commerce. The Pacific Ocean, the Columbia River, and Snake River provide three sides of the State with the advantages of water communication. Along the coast there are nine inlets which offer harbor facilities. Most of the streams flowing into the Pacific are navigable for short distances. Large ocean-going vessels pass up the Columbia as far as Portland. Since the construction of a canal at Cascade Locks, river steamers can go as far as The Dalles, above which point the stream is again navigable. The Snake River is navigable beyond the point where it leaves the boundary. The Willamette, with the aid of canals, is navigable to Eugene, 150 miles from Portland. The developed portions of the State are adequately supplied with railroads, but the great arid region east of the Cascades is wholly without railroad accommodations, save in the northeastern corner. Oregon shows a remarkably low mileage, there being but 1.71 miles of railroad for every 100 square miles of territory. The total mileage was 1631 in 1899, or 43.59 miles for every 10,000 inhabitants. The Union Pacific and the Southern Pacific lines own the greater portion. The former, following the course of the Columbia, crosses the extreme northern portion of the State from east to west. The latter, following the course of the Willamette, crosses the western portion of the State from north to south. In the greater portion of eastern Oregon wagon roads are the only means of communication.
The State has United States customs districts and ports of entry: for southwestern Oregon, at Coos Bay, the headquarters of the coal and lumber trade in that section; for the Columbia River, at Astoria; and for the Willamette, at Portland. The commercial importance of the water route is second only to that of the Mississippi. The commerce upon the Columbia and Willamette rivers has assumed great magnitude, due to the regular lines of steamers connecting with railways and canals around the falls. Smaller boats and rafting contribute largely to swell its volume.
Previous to 1868, the exports were mainly to the Sandwich Islands, Puget Sound, and San Francisco, and gold dust and ores formed three-fourths of the shipments. Since then the exports have reached almost every part of the globe, and consist largely of wheat and timber products. The foreign commerce of the State from 1890 to 1900 fluctuated between $5,000,000 and $15,000,000, about three-fourths being exports. The largest export countries were Great Britain, China, and Japan. The British East Indies and Japan supplied most of the imports. The State has a large interstate trade by rail and water, and a considerable portion of its products is distributed through San Francisco.
Banks. The Constitution of 1857 forbade any banks of issue, and also the incorporation of any banks by the Legislature. A private banking business was established in Portland in 1859. The First National Bank of Portland opened in 1865, being the oldest national bank west of the Rocky Mountains. The banking business remains unregulated. Since there is no banking law banks, incorporated or private, are formed under the general corporation law, which limits the liability of the stockholders. Due to this condition, the national banks, being the more secure institutions, have preference over the State banks in popular confidence. The aggregate banking interests remained very insignificant until 1885, when there were only four State and nine national banks. Then came a sudden growth, and in 1894 there were more than forty banks. After the depression of 1893-95 the number somewhat declined. The condition of the banks in 1902 is shown in the following table:
| Private |
|Number of banks||30||18||5|
Government. The Constitution under which Oregon entered Statehood still continues in force. It was adopted by a vote of the people of the Territory in November, 1857. To amend it the amendment must pass two successive Legislatures and be approved by popular vote. While amendments agreed to by one Legislature are awaiting final decision, no other amendment can be proposed.
The Constitution authorizes any male citizen of the United States, twenty-one years old, and six months a resident of the State, to be a voter, and any like foreigner who shall declare his intention to become a citizen one year before an election and shall have been a resident of the State for six months. Oregon sends two members to the National House of Representatives.
Legislative. The Legislature consists of a Senate of not exceeding 30 members, elected for a term of four years, and a House of Representatives of not exceeding 60 members, elected for two years. The apportionment is by counties or groupings of contiguous counties, and is made every fifth year, a State census being taken every year ending in 5. General elections are held biennially on the first Monday of June of even years, and the Legislature convenes on the second Monday of the following September. The members of either House receive, besides mileage, $3 a day, but are limited to a $120 allowance for any session. Extra sessions are limited to 20 days' duration. Bills may originate in either House, except revenue bills, which must originate in the House of Representatives. In 1902 an initiative and referendum clause was added. By this, 8 per cent. of the voters may demand the submission of a law to the vote of the people, and 5 per cent. may demand that any law passed by the Legislature shall be submitted for popular approval.
Executive. The Governor's term of office is four years, and he is not eligible to this office more than eight years in any period of twelve. He has the right of veto, but his veto may be overridden by a two-thirds vote of each House. The people elect a Secretary of State (who is Auditor and Comptroller), and a State Treasurer, the term of office of each being four years. The former succeeds to the Governorship in case it becomes vacant. A State printer and a superintendent of public instruction are elected every four years.
Judicial. There is a Supreme Court of five judges, which number may be increased to seven. They have appellate jurisdiction, and are elected for six years. There are five circuit courts, presided over by one of the judges of the Supreme Court, having civil and criminal jurisdiction, and appellate jurisdiction from the county courts. There are county courts with one judge, elected for four years, who is also judge of probate. The Circuit Court judges are elected one-third every two years. There are also a United States District Court, and for Oregon, California, and Nevada, a United States Circuit Court. One or more justices of the peace are elected in every township or mining district, and municipal courts may be created. Judges of the Supreme Court can be removed by the Governor upon the joint resolution of two-thirds of the Legislature. The grand jury consists of seven men chosen by lot, five of whom must concur to find an indictment. Grand juries may be modified or abolished by the Legislature.
Local Government. Each county elects a clerk and a sheriff, who serve for two years. Attorneys are elected by districts composed of one or more counties. The Legislative Assembly may provide for the election of two commissioners to sit with the county judge when transacting county business in any or all the counties, or may provide a separate board for transacting such business. Other local officers may be provided for by law. Special laws may be enacted for municipal purposes.
Other Provisions.—The registration of voters is not required. New ballot laws, based on the Australian system, were adopted in 1891. The legal rate of interest is 8 per cent.; allowed by contract, 10 per cent. Women may practice law in Oregon, and a wife has sole control of property owned by her at marriage or subsequently acquired. Chinamen are not allowed to hold real estate or work mining claims.
Finances. The Constitution prohibits the Legislature from contracting any State debt exceeding $50,000, or assuming the debt of any county, town, or corporation, except for purposes of war or to suppress an insurrection. Debts to the amount of $237,000 were contracted in 1864 in order to pay bounties to soldiers and for relief of discharged soldiers and officers. The bonds were rapidly redeemed and in 1870 only $90,000 were outstanding. In that year the Legislature authorized the issue of $200,000 for construction of a canal, to be redeemed from the proceeds of the sale of public lands. The Indian wars of 1874 and 1878 further increased the debt by about $175,000. Another debt was the ‘indorsed and unpaid’ warrants issued in 1873-75 and bearing 10 per cent. for construction of wagon roads and other purposes. These high interest bearing warrants were necessary because of the constitutional provision against bonds. Altogether about $350,000 of these warrants were issued. By 1878 the public debt amounted to $651,595; but the bonds and warrants were rapidly redeemed through a special tax on property. In 1886 the debt was reduced to $53,632 in bonds and warrants, which were advertised for but not presented for redemption. In 1903 the State had no funded debt except bonds to the amount of $2365 never presented and probably lost. The income of the State is derived mainly from a State tax and sale of public lands. In 1901 the total receipts were $1,772,808, of which 38 per cent. came from the State tax and 45 per cent. from sale of lands and payments on old sale-contracts and interest on the loans. The expenditures were $1,889,134, of which more than 50 per cent. went for educational purposes. Notwithstanding the deficit, the balance in the treasury on September 30, 1902, was $1,137,575.
Population. The population by decades was as follows: 1850, 13,294; 1860, 52,465; 1870, 90,923; 1880, 174,768; 1890, 313,767; 1900, 413,536. Oregon ranks 35th in population, and is exceeded by both of the other Pacific Coast States. The increase from 1890 to 1900 was 30.4, as compared with 20.7 for the United States. Over half of the population is located in the Willamette Valley. In 1900 the foreign-born numbered 65,748; Chinese, 10,397; and Indians taxed, 4951. The male sex exceeded the female by 52,000. The five places having a population exceeding 4000 each, contained together 27.6 per cent. of the population.
The Indians are collected largely on five reservations, namely, Grande Ronde, Klamath, Siletz, Umatilla, and Warm Springs. A limited amount of agriculture and stock-raising is carried on upon each of the reservations.
Cities. In 1900 Portland had 90,426 inhabitants; Astoria, 8381; and Baker City, 6663. Salem is the capital.
Religion. The leading denominations numerically are the Roman Catholic, Methodist Episcopal, Baptist, Disciples of Christ, Presbyterian, Congregational, Methodist Episcopal (South), Protestant Episcopal, and United Brethren.
Education. In 1900 only 3.3 per cent. of the population ten years of age and over were illiterate. The State Board of Education consists of the Governor, Secretary of State, and a superintendent of instruction. County superintendents are elected biennially, and officers of district boards every three years. Women are eligible to the office of school director, and widows with children to educate and owning taxable property in the district may vote in school meetings. Congress in 1848 gave Oregon sections 16 and 36 of all the public domain (3,387,520 acres) for public schools, 26 townships (500,000 acres) for a State university, and 90,000 acres for an agricultural college. From the proceeds of the sales of a portion of these lands an irreducible fund of $3,500,000 has been secured. The sparse settlement of a large part of the State makes the maintenance of schools difficult in many places. The Oregon law does not provide for district high schools, and rural communities are therefore without the advantages of secondary education. The length of school term, 123.9 days, is considerably below the average for the whole country. In 1899 there were 101,900 children between the ages of five and eighteen; the number enrolled was 88,485; the average attendance was 61,234. The public high schools numbered 15, and the private secondary schools 19. There are State normal schools at Monmouth, Drain, Ashland, Weston, and Gold Beach. The University of Oregon at Eugene was established in 1872. Pacific University and Tualatin Academy at Forest Grove are under Congregational control; Willamette University, Salem, is Methodist Episcopal; McMinnville College, McMinnville, Baptist; Portland University, University Park, Methodist Episcopal; Pacific College, Newberg, is a Friends institution; Philomath College, Philomath, a United Brethren; Corvallis College, Corvallis, Methodist Episcopal. Blue Mountain University is located at Lagrande. The State Agricultural College is at Corvallis. Willamette University gives instruction in law, and the University of Oregon has a law department at Portland, where also is situated the medical department of Willamette University. There is a successful Indian training school at Chemawa.
Charitable and Penal Institutions. There is a soldiers' home located at Roseburg, but the other State charitable institutions, in accordance with the requirements of the State Constitution, are located at the State capital. They are as follows: School for Deaf Mutes; Insane Asylum; School for the Blind; Boys' Reform School; and the State Penitentiary.
History. The accounts of the early exploration of the western Pacific coast are conflicting and unreliable. The Spanish explorer Ferrelo possibly reached latitude 42°, the southern boundary of Oregon, in 1543, and the English flag was carried fifty or sixty miles north of this point in 1579 by Sir Francis Drake. The Spaniards Vizcaino and Aguilar reached 42° or just beyond in 1603. The fear of a Russian advance led Charles III. of Spain to order further explorations, and Perez in 1774 reached 55°, and on his return anchored in what has been identified by some as Nootka Sound. The next year Heceta, with Perez as second in command, observed the mouth of the Columbia, and a party landed at the modern Port Grenville, where several were killed by the Indians. One of the ships reached 58°. The English navigator Captain Cook in 1778 landed at Nootka Sound, which he so named. This English claim to possession was disputed by the Spaniards in 1789, but Spain was forced to agree to give up exclusive claim to the region. (See Nootka Sound.) The French navigator Lapérouse in 1786 sailed along the coast from 58° 37′ southward. The American claim began with the visit of J. Kendrick and Robert Gray, sent out by Boston merchants to seek for furs. The winter of 1788-89 was spent at Nootka. In 1791 Captain Gray returned, and on May 11, 1792, entered the mouth of the river Saint Roque, which he renamed the Columbia, from his ship. Another English expedition under Vancouver examined the coast in 1793. Fur traders entered the country in 1793, and in 1811 the Pacific Fur Company founded Astoria at the mouth of the Columbia. (See Astor, John Jacob.) This was captured by the British, December 12, 1813, and renamed Fort George. It was restored to the United States in 1818, but abandoned by the owners. In 1824-25 Fort Vancouver was founded by John McLaughlin, chief factor of the United Hudson's Bay and Northwest Fur Companies, and he was practically Governor for many years.
The American claim rested upon the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 (the Spanish claim), and the discoveries of Captain Gray in 1792. From these grew the claim to all country drained by the Columbia. In 1805-06 Lewis and Clark explored much of the country. The northwestern boundary between the United States and Canada was fixed by the Convention of 1818 as the line of 49° from the Lake of the Woods to the Rocky Mountains. West of this point the territory was to be open to both parties, the United States and Canada, for ten years without prejudice to claims of either. (See Northwest Boundary Dispute.) By the Convention of 1827, ratified in 1828, joint occupation was continued indefinitely, but might be terminated by either party on twelve months' notice. The British were willing to concede 49° to the Columbia River, thence down it to the mouth, thus taking in a greater part of the present State of Washington, while the American claim, as before stated, was for all of the basin of the Columbia River, practically 42°-52°. The Oregon question occupied much of the attention of Congress after 1820, and the sentiment for demanding ‘all of Oregon’ grew. By the negotiations with Russia (1824-25) that country agreed to make no settlements south of 54° 40′, and the idea gained ground that this was the proper northern boundary. Immigration to the territory had begun in 1832; the Methodists founded a mission under Jason Lee in 1834, and the Presbyterians under Marcus Whitman in 1836. Every year after 1838 numbers of immigrants crossed the Rockies, and by 1845 the American population numbered nearly 3000. The settlement of the northeastern boundary had been unsatisfactory, and in 1844 a popular rallying cry of the Democrats was “Fifty-four forty, or fight.” Several Senators favored war, but others held that the best method of gaining possession was by actual settlement, in which the Americans were far surpassing the British, who were hardly represented except by the trappers of the Hudson's Bay Company. It was finally agreed in 1846 that the boundary should be 49° to the channel between Vancouver and the mainland, thence down the middle of this channel, through the Straits of San Juan de Fuca to the sea. The story that Marcus Whitman (q.v.) in 1843 prevented the exchange of the northern part of the territory for fishing stations in Newfoundland is unfounded.
The American inhabitants in 1843 met and organized a Territorial government under an executive council. A Governor was chosen in 1845 and served until the organization of the region as a Territory of the United States. Oregon Territory, including the present Washington and much of Idaho, was organized on August 14, 1848, though the Governor did not arrive until the next year. The increase of population caused the inhabitants to hold a convention at Salem, August-September, 1857, which formed a State constitution and asked for admission. This instrument prohibited slavery, but forbade any free negro or mulatto “to come, reside, or be in the State, or hold real estate, or make any contract, or maintain any suit.” The State was admitted February 14, 1859, with the present boundaries. Indian troubles were frequent from early times. In 1847 Whitman and twelve companions were massacred. There was constant trouble during the Civil War, and the Shoshone War (1866-68) and the Modoc War (1864-73) were serious. (See article Modoc.) All Indians are now confined within narrow reservations, or have been removed to Indian Territory. The Constitution has been seldom amended. The ‘anti-negro’ clause still stands, though, of course, inoperative. The State has been successful in securing large appropriations for improvement of rivers and harbors from the National Government. The Cascade Locks on the Columbia were the largest in the world when completed in 1896. The State has given its electoral vote for the Republican ticket except in 1868, and one vote in 1892, though usually by small majorities. In 1876 it was found that one of the Republican electors held a Federal office, and was consequently ineligible. The Democratic Governor issued a certificate to the leading minority candidate, but the two Republican electors filled the vacancy, and their position was sustained by the Electoral Commission (q.v.). In 1892 the Democrats indorsed one Populist elector, and the vote that year was: Republican, 3; Populist, 1. Political squabbles have been frequent, and in 1897 the Lower House of the Legislature refused to organize on account of a contest for United States Senator.
|Governors of Oregon.|
|Kuitzing Pritchett (acting)||1860|
|John P. Gaines||1850-52|
|George L. Curry||1853|
|John W. Davis||1853-54|
|George L. Curry||1854-59|
|Addison C. Gibbs||Republican||1862-66|
|George L. Woods||“||1866-70|
|S. F. Chadwick (acting)||“||1877-78|
|William W. Thayer||“||1878-82|
|Zenas F. Moody||Republican||1882-87|
|William P. Lord||Republican||1895-99|
|Theodor T. Geer||“||1899-1903|
|George E. Chamberlain||Democrat||1903—|
Bibliography. Bulfinch, Oregon and Eldorado (Boston, 1866); Moseley, Oregon: Resources, Climate, Products (London, 1878); Nash, Two Years in Oregon (New York, 1882); Barrows, Oregon, the Struggle for Possession (Boston, 1884); Nixon, How Marcus Whitman Saved Oregon (Chicago, 1895); Mowry, Marcus Whitman and the Early Days of Oregon (New York, 1901); Bourne, "The Whitman Legend," in American Historical Review (ib., 1901); Bancroft, History of the Northwest Coast (San Francisco, 1884); id., History of Oregon (San Francisco, 1886-88); Gray, History of Oregon, 1792-1849 (Portland, Ore., 1870); Nicolay, Oregon Territory (London, 1846), a clear statement of the British position; Greenhow, History of Oregon and California (Boston, 1844).